Shoemaker’s responsibility pluralism: reflections on Responsibility from the Margins
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David Shoemaker’s Responsibility from the Margins (Oxford University Press, 2015) is one of the most important books on the nature of responsibility written since H.L.A. Hart’s Punishment and Responsibility (1968). That’s a span of nearly half a century. Shoemaker wisely focuses on the nature of moral responsibility and sets aside a treatment of the control condition for it. While many books promise to treat moral responsibility thoroughly, most just focus upon the metaphysics of the control condition. So they are mostly about the metaphysics of agency. Shoemaker has made impressive progress by setting this debate aside and turning more directly to moral responsibility’s nature. In this respect, his book is of a piece with such important books as Hart’s, along with Jonathan Glover’s Responsibility (1970), and as well Michael Zimmerman’s An Essay on Moral Responsibility (Zimmerman 1988). That’s impressive company.
In what follows, I will raise four objections, but I hasten to add that...
For helpful advice, I would like to thank Phoebe Chan, Dana Nelkin, Paul Russell, Mark Timmons, Steve Wall, and Robert Wallace.
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